New legislation aims to legalize online poker
When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day you can expect the Health Care debate to be the focus of almost every conversation. What many are unaware of is that there are two bills awaiting a vote on the floor of the Congress, both of which seek to legalize online poker.
In the Senate, S 8309 was introduced by Robert Menendez (D-NJ). S 8309 seeks to legalize, and regulate, online games of skill, the most notable of course being poker. Menendez draws a clear distinction between gambling and games of skill in his bill – which many see as a contingency plan to the bill introduced in the House of Representatives.
In the House of Representatives, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) has introduced two separate bills that will affect online poker. The first bill seeks to repeal the UIGEA legislation that passed in 2006 as part of the Safe Ports Act. The primary bill seeks to legalize and regulate the entire online gaming industry, not just games of skill.
Both bills require companies to be licensed, and pay taxes at both the federal and state level. Additionally both bills attempt to implement safeguards to prevent problem gamblers and children from having access to online sites (a major talking point for opponents of online gambling). And neither bill allows for sports betting, which is an entirely different can of worms.
Hopefully, with health care on the mind, the usual proponents of legalized gambling will have their collective backs turned, and Congress will be able to push through at least one of these bills, and repeal UIGEA. Online poker is still thriving despite government attempts to outlaw Internet gambling, and with the current budget deficit and national debt the smart money is on some type of online poker regulation being passed. The government could definitely use the estimated $50 billion in revenue that online poker would produce.
Written by Steve Ruddock
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